Rays closer Brad Boxberger will be out of action for eight weeks after undergoing core muscle surgery, per manager Kevin Cash (via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Twitter links). Tampa Bay doesn’t expect to look for an outside addition, preferring instead to utilize internal options without naming a single 9th-inning man while Boxberger is out.
The Rays thinned out their pitching depth somewhat over the winter, bringing in options in the field in trades that cost the club arms such as Jake McGee and Nate Karns. McGee, certainly, would have been the obvious choice to fill in for Boxberger were he still with the club.
As things stand, Alex Colome looks like a good bet to receive the lion’s share of the save opportunities that arise — even if he’s not anointed as the closer. After all, the live-armed righty was reportedly set to receive frequent eighth-inning assignments in a setup role. Other possibilities include right-handers Danny Farquhar and Steve Geltz and southpaw Xavier Cedeno.
Of course, unlike the cross-state Marlins’ season-long loss of Carter Capps, this injury promises only to be a temporary setback. Any significant injury is cause for concern with a pitcher — the lingering effects and cascading impact on a delivery can be a subtle threat — and it isn’t clear whether the eight-week estimated timetable is for Boxberger’s return to baseball activities or to a major league mound. But it seems there’s at least hope that he’ll be able to make it back before May is out.